dhc-handsome-3-683x1024I am a litigation lawyer at Owen Bird Law Corporation located in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. Before becoming a lawyer I worked in the bar and restaurant industry in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for six years.

I’ve bussed tables, changed kegs, worked the bar and worked the door. It is an industry I know well.

The hospitality business attracts a lot of characters – on both sides of the bar. The atmosphere in most bars and restaurants is fast paced and lively, sometimes crowded, and often noisy. Despite being heavily regulated, the industry remains dynamic. Perhaps not surprisingly the elements that make visiting and working in a bar enjoyable, are the same elements that cause headaches for owners and management. There is never a dull moment when the service of alcohol is involved.

British Columbia is undergoing tremendous growth in the production and sale of alcohol, and the province’s Liquor Control and Licensing Act and related policy is in constant state of change. New wineries, breweries and distilleries continue to open their doors, and they are doing business in innovative ways.  As British Columbia’s liquor laws undergo further revisions in 2016, and the producers and purveyors of beer, wine and spirits respond, the face of the bar and restaurant industry in British Columbia will continue to change.

Unfortunately growing businesses, growing industries, and changing legal landscapes are fertile grounds for disputes. In addition to the challenges that most small businesses face from time to time with employees, landlords and distributors, those businesses who operate under the auspices of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act occasionally must face their regulators at the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. Regardless of the nature of the dispute, advocacy is important. Licensees need counsel who understand British Columbia’s liquor laws. For most bars and restaurants a licence suspension or fine can be the difference between success and failure. For new breweries or distilleries a trademark dispute, or poorly drafted shareholder’s agreement, can put an end to a great idea before it gets off the ground.

As a lawyer I routinely appear in court and in front of tribunals advocating for my clients. I act for manufacturers, agents and other licensees who are faced with contraventions under the Act, related business disputes, or need general advice on British Columbia’s liquor laws.

Alcohol & Advocacy is a blog designed to let me share developments in the law, industry news, and opinions with the producer and purveyor community. Nothing published here is intended to be relied on as legal advice.

If you or your business is in need of legal advice, or advocacy before a court or tribunal please contact me directly at 604-691-7526 or at dcoles@owenbird.com